Hop, skip, and a jump

Hop, skip, and a jump is an idiom that is hundreds of years old. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying hop, skip, and a jump, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A hop, skip, and a jump is a short distance; if something is a hop, skip, and a jump away from you, then it is nearby or a minimal distance away from you. Hop, skip, and a jump is a noun. The expression hop, skip, and a jump was first rendered in the early 1700s as hop, step, and jump and referred to a dance move. By 1760, the phrase had evolved into hop, skip, and a jump, but it still referred to a dance move. In the early-to-mid-1800s, the term came to be used to mean a short distance.


The hunt will take place on Wednesday, March 31 at Davidson Park in Williston, just a hop, skip and a jump away from the library itself. (Williston Herald)

How is it that the prime minister found himself minutely informed about an alleged incident in a media organisation, but completely unaware that a member of government staff had been allegedly raped in the ministerial wing just a hop, skip and a jump from his office? (Guardian)

Don’t let the wooded surroundings fool you—this idyllic property is a hop, skip, and a jump away from the beach. (Boston Magazine)

Leave a Comment